Date
19 November 2017
Vitargent founder Eric Chen (second from right) said the company's innovative technology can bring down the cost and improve the accuracy of toxicity testing for food stuff, drugs and other commercial products. Photo: HKEJ
Vitargent founder Eric Chen (second from right) said the company's innovative technology can bring down the cost and improve the accuracy of toxicity testing for food stuff, drugs and other commercial products. Photo: HKEJ

HK firm makes breakthrough in toxicity testing technology

Vitargent (International) Biotechnology Ltd., a homegrown biotechnology startup, has achieved a breakthrough in testing technology by using certain fish embryos to detect toxic substances in commercial products.

The company, nurtured by Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp., employs “transgenic medaka and zebrafish fish embryo toxicity test technologies” that can detect a thousand potential toxic materials in food stuff, cosmetics and skincare products, drugs and water in just one testing, compared with five to 10 substances detected each time in current technologies, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

The testing method can find the presence and determine the level of estrogen in products. Long-term consumption of food with excessive estrogen levels can trigger various health problems, including cancer, decline in fertility, obesity and mental disorder, according to medical studies.  

Vitargent’s innovation brings down the cost of testing to only about 30 percent of that of current technologies, but improves accuracy and safety to 80 percent from 30 percent, Eric Chen, the company’s founder and director, said.

The technology has been adopted by a growing number of multinational corporations, government agencies and institutions in Europe, mainland China and Hong Kong, including state-backed China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corp. Patent applications have been submitted in several countries.

The company is also devising a system to ensure that the technology is used correctly by client institutions.

“We are planning to establish a security verification system to ensure the testing standards and quality performed by institutions which are authorized to use our technology,” Chen said.

Founded in 2011, Vitargent was funded by angel investors and government startup funds worth a combined HK$10 million.

Translation by Vey Wong

[Chinese version中文版]

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